Hesjedal regains Giro lead
Andrey Amador bagged a dramatic victory on the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia as Ryder Hesjedal reclaimed the overall lead.
Amador (Movistar) just got the better of his fellow breakaway companions Jan B?a (NetApp) and Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela) as the terrain flattened out on the run to the finish at the top of the first category climb to Cervinia.
Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), meanwhile, had come out of the chasing pack in the final 4km to put distance between himself and the rest, crossing the line in fourth, 20 seconds behind Amador but crucially 26 seconds ahead of his main GC rivals.
That saw him take back the maglia rosa from Joaquim Rodr?ez (Katusha) whom he now leads by nine seconds, with Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) up to third, 41 seconds back.
"I felt good and I knew the last 3km were the easiest part of the climb so I figured I'd give it a go," Hesjedal said. "I wasn't thinking about what the guys were doing behind, it was all about my effort. I gave it everything and it's worked out well with me being back in the jersey."
And it was also a good day for Team Sky's Colombian duo Rigoberto Ur?and Sergio Henao who both finished in the front group to move up to eighth and 11th respectively on the overall standings. Ur?is now the leader of the young rider classification, with Henao his closest challenger.
The most significant mountain test of the race so far, which covered 206 kilometres from Cherasco, finished with two category one climbs.
A frenetic early pace meant it took 67km for an eight-man break to move clear and by the time they reached the penultimate climb, the 22.4km Col de Joux, their advantage was still over 10 minutes.
B?a moved clear of his fellow escapees on that ascent but after going over the top Amador launched his effort to bridge the gap and De Marchi then made it a three-man selection.
All the time the peloton was cutting the gap as Liquigas-Cannondale did much of the work on the front. But it started to splinter when an attack from Jos?ujano (Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela) and particularly Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) forced Astana into action.
That duo were soon pegged back but on the final climb it was touch and go whether the original break would be caught - their lead was 6:30 with 10km remaining but just 3:20 going under the 5km banner.
Hesjedal made his move soon after that point and though Rodr?ez tried to close him down he was never quite able to get on terms with the Canadian and dropped back into what was a rapidly-dwindling pack.
Coming into the finish B?a somehow found extra reserves to sprint first for the line but Amador had his measure and came through for the stage win before the focus switched to the GC contenders.
Another mountain test awaits on Sunday as stage 15 covers 169km from Busto Arsizio to Lecco/Pian del Resinelli.